Opportunity is a very interesting thing.
It’s always there, even when few can see it.
On the one hand, travel writers everywhere bemoan the shrinking opportunities to get published in print, as well as the steady decline in pay.
And yet others point to growth in online opportunities and the ease with which nearly anyone can see their byline somewhere on the web, whether it’s on their own site or elsewhere.
However, as we all know, few online outlets pay well – if at all – leaving writers and bloggers struggling for ways to earn a living from their writing. Some are lucky enough to find advertisers willing to pay them for space on their websites, but even that rarely amounts to enough to pay the bills and cover travel expenses.
Many writers tell me that they feel uncomfortable “hawking products” or pandering to those who would offer press trips or other free travel, believing it will compromise their integrity.
What’s a travel writer or blogger to do?
While there are a number of ways to monetize good travel content, there’s one that few travel writers seem to be taking advantage of …. partnering with a travel agent on a lead-generation program.
If you’re at all aware of the state of affairs in the travel industry, you’ll know that travel agents generally aren’t having the best of times. Margins are razor thin and agents are having to compete with bigger, more nimble online travel sellers – such as Orbitz and Expedia – a challenge they didn’t have a few short years ago. Almost all agents are interested in having more quality, targeted leads, and are willing to pay for them too – after all, finding new customers can be expensive and time-consuming.
And since you’ve been busy carving out your own select audience who are already interested in travel, working directly with a travel agent makes perfect sense.
It solves the ethical dilemma because you’re providing a resource for your readers who may be interested in traveling to the destinations you review and write about. You’re connecting a person who has a need with someone who can help them. And earning some money by doing so.
Sounds simple, right?
It is…….but how do you find the right travel agent to partner with? How do you structure a program that works for both of you? How do you decide on a price for leads? How do you monitor and track leads and revenue? Do it the right way and it can be successful for both of you…..do it wrong and it will be yet another failed monetization strategy.
Some of you that know me well are aware that in addition to writing and editing, I’ve been in the travel industry for many years. For the last seven years I have had several lead-generation programs in place, and working successfully enough for my company to be at the upper tier of travel producers and consistently win sales awards with top travel industry wholesalers, so I know it works.
Recently, while speaking at a travel industry conference, my good friend Andy Hayes and I presented several sessions, including one on this very topic.
Together we’ve created an eBook, Agent Meet Blogger, Blogger Meet Agent, with step-by-step instructions to help any travel blogger or travel agent put in place a lead-generation program that lets each person do what they do best – for the writer/blogger that means producing quality travel stories and articles for their website or blog, and for a travel agent that means spending more time actually selling instead of finding customers.
The eBook answers the questions above and more, offering partnership strategies and tips for success, and insights that help you understand your partner’s needs as well. We’ve even included a sample agreement – based on the one I actually use – that you can modify to suit your own program. We’ve spelled it out so that you don’t have to experiment to see what works – you can use the techniques I’ve already refined and still use today.
So why am I sharing this information? Good question…..and one Andy asked me when we started this. I’ll tell you the same thing I told Andy….there’s more than enough business to go around, more than enough people who want to travel. No single travel agent, or agency, can sell to everyone, so I’m not worried about competition.
If this sounds like an interesting way to monetize your travel blog, then check out the eBook and give it a try. You have nothing to lose – except another opportunity.
How do you monetize your travel blog? Share your experience!
How to make money writing about travel and doing the things you love! That’s the $10,000 question. Ad revenue is of course the #1 way that I make money off of my Web site: Adventures of a GoodMan: Photography, Storytelling & World Travel by Greg Goodman. However, I would love for other sites to begin paying for my work. That’s the dream right?
Any interest in sending over a review copy for me to write a post on? :)
You’re right Greg – that is the big question everyone is trying to find the answer to……how do you make decent money if you’re not selling a product? And right now, advertising is what most bloggers are relying on, but that requires a significant amount of site traffic to work well, or to at least earn enough ad revenue to offset the travel expenses, let alone to live on.
Try emailing Andy directly about a review copy…..and thanks for stopping by! :-D
Hi Trish, this sounds like a good strategy, especially if you have a very niche travel blog (eg French Provence) and can find a travel agent that specializes in that area to partner with.
The book sounds handy. No point in reinventing the wheel is there and it’s so much better to go to partners with a sound plan rather than a vague well we could to this or we could try that!
Hi Annabel – you’re absolutely right! Although being a generalist can still work, what you describe is how to be most successful at it. :-)